‘The economic relationship between Kenya and Uganda is symbiotic. Many of us tend to portray it as Kenyan philanthropy. Uganda is a centre piece in the lifeline of Kenya’s economy, the Great Lakes hinterland along the Northern Corridor. Kenya’s industry was erected to serve that market. It survives on servicing that market. Any attempt by Kenya to cut itself off from that market would be suicidal. As you know, Uganda is the quarter guard to and a bottle neck in Kenya’s access to that market, covering Uganda herself, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern DRC and Southern Sudan. However, for suppliers and consumers, vulnerability is mutual. To think otherwise, like some of you do, is to hope that you can clap with one hand.

But also remember what we used to be taught in economic geography…I think Primary Seven, Term II week 3: “It is as easy for a hinterland country to change its entrepots as it is impossible for a coastal country to change its hinterland.” Kenya is as equally vulnerable as that.

Kenya has no lake worth writing home about. Migingo is only useful as a beachhead for fishing in the deeper waters of Southern Bugiri and Mukono, bordering with Tanzania. That is where they get all the fish from.The portion of Nalubaale that belongs to Kenya is too shallow for meaningful fishing and this is what YK Museveni observed, when he emphasized the point of the waters to the West of the islands. If the brothers in Kenya insist on strict policing of the borders then they will take Migingo, but it will be useless for them, especially if Uganda reciprocates by saying: keep out! Kenyan fishefolk can only fish in Bugiri.

Note that, the bit of Nalubale that belongs to Kenya is too muddy for fish to thrive. From the bit of military geography of that area that I remember, there are are about 12 rivers that drain into Kenya victoria, depositing a heavy load of soil from the highlands West of the Rift Valley. Fish can not live there…except may be a bit of Nile Perch. When Nile Perch (which thrives in shallower waters) was introduced in the lake smaller species like tilapia took cover in the deeper waters where NP could not venture (hence the unscientific myth that NP had finished tilapia….the latter run into exile deep in Bugiri and Mukono).

The Migingo hysteria is no different from the balaalo issue, and the small peasants in the crop farming areas: being stuck in small timer production. Actually YK Museveni has already looked beyond the hysteria of the rocky acre and identified the centre of gravity of the little quarrel: the deep waters of Bugiri and Mukono. He is laughing at those who think the rocky acre is the decisive factor.

My interest in telling Uganda to get their hands off that rock is first it belongs to Kenya a fact that we want to ignore, and secondly, it does not really matter for some one that is determined to harvest fish from that pond called Nalubale. Uganda, go trawler.

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick


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